SYZYGRYD

A 2.5-ton fire-breathing musical instrument

Engineering  |  Fabrication

QuoteSyzygryd is a town square for the collaborative creation of music. It's a public space, it's a sculpture, and it's a professional musical instrument. It's the most beautiful expression we can imagine of the joy we take in community, music, technology, fire, sculpture and architecture.

- www.syzygryd.com/about/

CONTEXT: 2010 Burning Man Honorarium Project, seven-month build process

THE TEAM: Interpretive Arson (90 others + me), Oakland, CA

MY ROLE: Turbine engineering and fabrication lead, CNC fabrication team

TOOLS: 3ds Max, laser cutter, CNC plasma cutter

THE PROJECT

Syzygryd is a 60-foot-diameter sculpture, with three musical interfaces spaced around its circumference. By controlling time, pitch and harmony, the interfaces allow people with no musical training or talent to explore sounds and create melodious compositions together.

Syzygryd user interface

Image by Audrey Penven

The main body of the sculpture is a tornado of cubes, with a fire tornado at its center. The entire sculpture pulses with light and fire, synchronized to the music participants create.

Syzygryd

Image by Joachim Pedersen

I led the design and fabrication of Syzygryd's fire tornado turbine. I modeled the turbine in 3ds Max, then laser-cut a cardboard prototype. In the video below, you can see the prototype being consumed -- er, I mean tested.

Video by Daniel Garcia

I CNC plasma-cut the final turbine pieces out of steel and riveted them together (with help from the team). We attached the turbine to an industrial fan, then it was piped by Syzygryd's pyrotechnics team, and finally installed at the center of the sculpture.

Syzygryd fire tornado turbine

Image by Mike Estee

As part of the CNC fabrication team, I also spent 100+ hours hanging out at TechShop in Menlo Park, plasma-cutting cube faces. Ahh, the lingering smell of molten aluminum ....

Aluminum cubes

Image by Aaron Muszalski

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